- Sponsorship -

$$ and Sense: Middle School Students Operate Bank

When it comes to crunching numbers, Valleywood Middle School eighth-grader Kristin Crumley is ready to help make things add up for her peers.

Psyched for her first day on the job as a bank manager, Kristin cut the ribbon to launch her school’s Comerica Bank Youth Savings Program.

It wasn’t just a game or financial activity. Kristin is truly a bank official who will help manage students’ money right inside the Kentwood Public Schools sixth- through eighth-grade building. One day each month, she will help open savings accounts and manage a staff of 10 students including an assistant manager, marketing representatives and tellers.

Together, the team of student bankers will take deposits, balance the tills and learn good customer service. Their classmates will learn to save money and set financial goals.

“I feel like it’s very productive and it helps others have a better future,” said Kristin, who applied and was selected for the bank manager position. She also opened her own savings account to sock away her allowance money for college and an iPhone.

The Youth Savings Program was started through a partnership with Comerica Bank and Heart of West Michigan United Way to get students saving young. Kent School Services Network coordinator Allison Corso helped implement the program with representatives of Comerica, the school’s neighborhood bank at 52nd Street SE and Kalamazoo Avenue.Valleywood Middle School eighth-grader Kristin Crumley takes her position as bank manager

Savings Add Up To Financial Security

“What we are helping them do is create a lifelong pattern of savings and building good financial habits,” said Patti Griswold, senior vice president of retail banking for Comerica Bank.

2011 research from the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, found that children with savings accounts are up to seven times more likely to attend college. They also develop pride, leadership and discipline, Griswold said.

Valleywood will have monthly “bank days” for students to deposit money. Students started with a minimum of $1 and can add up to $20 each bank day. They can also make deposits or withdrawals with their parents at any bank branch.

“The biggest thing is not about the amount they are putting in,” said Corso of Kent SchoolServices Network. “Even if you put in $1 every month that does create the pride of, ‘I am being steadfast and consistent at saving monthly and seeing it as an investment. I am investing in myself and my future because I see big and great things for me and I want to pursue those dreams.'”

Students learn the value of having an account of their own, said Jeanine Bryant, Community Reinvestment Act public affairs manager for Comerica Bank.

“Comerica is interested in making sure we invest in low- and moderate-income areas and making sure that students are educated on financial matters,” Bryant said. “Kids come into contact with a lot of money. We want to get them thinking about making goals and planning on how they spend it.”

Bank employees trained students to become bankers. Sixth-grade students Regi Hovermale and Kayla Haggerty took their spots as tellers and marketing managers. They described how they walk peers through starting their accounts from the initial hello to final receipt.

Sixth-grade bank tellers Kayla Haggerty and Regi Hovermale demonstrate how they help students open accounts“I’m really good at math, being creative and working with money,” Regi said. She plans to contribute $15 to $20 per month into her own account earned by babysitting and helping her father at his drywall business. “I just thought, why not make it a goal for myself?”

Maureen Noe, Heart of West Michigan United Way CEO, said all students have the right to a quality education so they can have a stable income. The Youth Savings Program helps students and schools achieve that goal by helping them become financially literate and learn to make good decisions with their money at a young age.

“You guys can learn about financial stability and banking, and maybe some of you will choose it as a career,” Noe told students. “We know for sure you are going to learn about saving money, about being good with the dollars you have.”


Comerica Bank

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.


Young constitutional scholars view current events, politics through historical lens

East Grand Rapids and East Kentwood high school We the People team members have qualified for the national competition, becoming well versed in civics and critical thinking along the way...

Rain gutter regatta showcases buoyancy, engineering skills

An annual boat race has become a highlight of sixth-grade science class. At stake: bragging rights and 'a goofy trophy'...

The Hood family: a school & community leadership dynasty

Five generations have lived within a five- to six-mile radius dating back to a government work program in the 1930s...

The sky’s the limit (or is it?) for this accomplished model builder

Creative, innovative, imaginative … Many of today’s students are all that and more in a vast variety of interest areas. This series features students with exceptional and unusual gifts...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Young constitutional scholars view current events, politics through historical lens

East Grand Rapids and East Kentwood high school We the People team members have qualified for the national competition, becoming well versed in civics and critical thinking along the way...

For MLK Day, educators discuss improving equity in education

A leading advocate on equity in education says Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy requires educators to dig deeper into making sure all students have what they need to thrive...

Teacher lights science up with creativity

As a child, Wendy Johnson’s curiosity led her to discover her passion for science. Now a ninth-grade biophysics teacher at East Kentwood, her passion transforms the average science class into a hub of student curiosity...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU